Page 1

Calvin Hassel winning his 19th C1 national title

Designed by World Champions


Page 6 Page 8

Nearly sunk, the San Diego Canoe & Kayak Team rises to prominence

February 2011

Tecolote 5000 attracts some top names and some future Olympic hopefuls.

USCA Racing Features

Gareth Stevens highlights the Illinois “Triple Crown� and the 2011 USCA National Championship Page 19 3

More Inside

Tecolote 5000 features big guns

San Diego Canoe and Kayak Racing Team hosts multi-race event feature multiple paddling 6

San Diego racing club plays the phoenix, rises from the ashes

Coach Chris Bowman tells the tale of how a youth movement has led a racing team back from the brink of 8

The Challenge and Charm of Stage Racing

Stage racing is a growing format across the U.S., but requires a different metal, physical and tactical 12

USA Canoe/Kayak CEO writes about the future of sprint racing in the U.S.

Joe Jacobi’s letter helps set the context for the future of the Olympic racing federation and how he sees it getting there with reducd USOC 16

Illinois is now touting its own ‘triple crown’

Three races in Illinois create a unique racing series for the novice to the expert. Read about these three 19

USCA National Championships

Newaygo, Mich., hosts the annual event where hundreds of paddlers will enjoy enhanced event 22

Travel grants for paddlers with disabilities

USCA enhances travel grants for paddlers with disabilities headed to the ICF world marathon 30

The science of hull design

Canoe & Kayak Racing is a bimonthly electronic magazine containing news, articles and features about events, paddlers, training, race results and other information about canoe and kayak racing in the United States. CKR seeks to promote canoe and kayak racing with editorial and promotional content designed to inform, educate and motivate beginners and experienced paddlers of all ages. Each issue will cover a wide range of editorial and promotional content from tips and how to articles to race reports and feature stories. CKR regularly accepts by-lined editorial submissions with the right of final editing for style, tone, length and voice. Editorial and graphical content may not be used in any form, printed or digital, without permission of the editor with attribution. CKR is posted bimonthly at: Editor: Dan Grubbs Contributors this issue: Stephen Mahelona, associate editor Gareth Stevens, contributor Chris Bowman, contributor Erin Magee, contributor

What constitutes hull smoothness and how does it affect the performance of a boat? 32

John Baltzell, contributor

Cover: Nebraskan Calvin Hassel portaging Potato Rapids Dam while winning his 19th National C1 Championship, beating Serge Corbin of Quebec and Andy Triebold of Mich. in a very close finish.

Canoe & Kayak Racing

Photo © 2010 Robert Brumm (Shoot-To-Thrill Photography) - 4

Canoe & Kayak Racing

Shawn Burke, contributor

1221 Pheasant Ct. Liberty, Missouri 64068 816-729-4422 CKR’s Facebook profile

With each issue of Canoe & Kayak Racing I’m forturnate that I have a platform here to communicate what’s on my mind on nearly anything related to paddlesports. This issue, I’m going to use this space to do a bit of promotion for a worthy cause. Stephen Mahelona, our associate editor, and I have embarked on a mission to raise $5,000 in the fight against breast cancer.

Talk about a race for the cure. How about 340 miles - on an outrigger canoe - in fewer than 60 hours - all for Susan G. Komen for the Cure? Beginning July 19, Stephen and I will tackle the mighty Missouri River for 340 non-stop miles as we seek to raise awareness and funds for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. We are entered into the 2011 Missouri River 340, the world’s longest non-stop river race, to make a contribution to a cause that is very close to Stephen. Stephen and his wife Stacie met as paddlers for opposing outrigger canoe clubs, and eight months into their marriage Stacie was diagnosed with breast cancer. Over the past year they have become intimately aware of what cancer patients and their families endure, and have made it one of their priorities to help raise awareness and educate and raise funds to aid in the fight against breast cancer. It isn’t the first experience with the disease for either of

them – like most people, Stephen and Stacie count survivors among their parents and siblings. “When my sister Malia was diagnosed five years ago, the news rocked me to the core,” Stephen said. “As I look back, I realize that my fear was rooted in ignorance, so Stacie and I now spend time with newly-diagnosed patients and their families trying to replace their fears with facts.” So, we’ve formed a racing team called Hui Ho’ola with Stacie as our ground support captain and Stephen’s dad, Chester, as coach. Although Stephen and I will be racing on the canoe, Stacie and Chester, as the team’s “pit crew” will be racing along on land to meet us at checkpoints along the river. These checkpoints are vital to a successful race for resupply of hydration, nutrition and other things we may need.

From the Editor away by Jude’s generosity to support our cause. He’s rigged a V2-X outrigger canoe to meet our long-distance needs with extra bungies and dual steering. For those who are interested, the Huki V2-X we will race will be for sale at the end of the race. Anyone interested in this OC2 can simply make arrangements by e-mailing Jude at jude@ Mahalo, Jude. So, now to the important part. We have a good start on our fundraising, but we are asking the world-wide racing community to consider making a donation through our website. The very name of our team connotes what we’re trying to achieve. In the Hawaiian language, hui can generally mean team or group; and, ho’ola means save, heal and cure. So you can see our team name itself communicates what we’re all about. Nearly everyone has had their life touched by breast cancer in some way. And, we’re hopeful that our effort will raise awarness of the need for self examinations, screenings, mamagrams and the needed research to fight breast cancer.

Unfortunately, this research is costly so we’re hopeful that the paddling community sees our cause as worthy and Stephen & Stacie Mahelona helps bear just a little of the cost by making a donation. Please visit our website to learn more I want to give a big shout out to Jude and how you can make a donation. Turczynski, boat designer/builder and owner of Huki Outriggers and Surfskis. Jude has graciously agreed to be our boat sponsor and we’re blown 5

from December is a busy month anywhere and especially so in San Diego where the Tecolote 5000 went off on Mission Bay. With outrigger canoes, stand up paddle boards, standard paddleboards and kayaks all in on the action there was something for everyone and a busy day for organizers.

next to the featured 5,000 meter long course.

Danny Ching an on top at Te

While the event takes on a festival atmosphere, all eyes were fixed on what was to be a serious showdown in the SUP long course (3,200 meters) with Maximus and Ching mixing it up. While Ching is the young pup racing in the 20-34 age diviWith some of the world’s top sion, Maximus (35-44 division) paddlers in attendance, including has every tool he needs to beat Danny Ching and Thomas Maxi- Ching on any given day. Howmus, racing was fiercely conever, it was not to be Maximus’ tested. With a 5,000-meter main day with Ching’s 18 minute 57 event, the Tecolote 5000 the San second time bettering Maximus Diego Canoe and Kayak Team by an eight-second difference in makes it a diverse affair and a thrilling finish. Jared Vargas featured knock out style sprints took third place overall while and a 2,000 meter short course Tyson Popplo won the 12’6” 6

division. Yet, the effort of the day 3,200-meter course may have been in the Senior Masters ladies division with Kristin Thomas taking victory out distancing quite a few of the men and even some unlimited SUPs upon her 12’6”. For the paddleboards it was George Plsek locked in battle with Dan Van Dyck with Plsek coming out on top by a 20 second margin. Special props to Kaitlin Baks the lone lady in

nd Luke Michael ecolote 5000

Flemmer Ross won the outrigger canoe racing impressively beating out the OC2 of Jeff Smith and Jerrett Renfro. Notable performances in this divithe division who posted a darn sion were turned in by double respectable time. dippers Thomas Maximus and For the guys sitting down it was George Plsek who came third Luke Michael and his brother and fifth, respectively. Both Jake in a knock down drag out Maximus and Plsek also won race for the finish line. The two their divisions in the 200-meter paddlers were pushing as hard as sprints. Nice day at the office. they could across the 5,000-meter course but it was Luke giving For the surfski division Philippe Boccara took the win in domiit that extra stroke to take Jake down by only 2 seconds after 21 nant fashion beating second place Sean Lupton Smith by minutes and 25 seconds of padmore than two minutes while dling. Suzanne de Brujin won Hanieh Khatibi came out on top the ladies division in a time of for the ladies. 24:52.

The juniors were up first on the day and none was faster than Albert Briones who took the win in the boys under 14 kayak division. It was however a hard fought battle with Cody Smith finishing a scant 21 seconds behind. Abril Torres took the win for the girls and she also won the 200 meter sprints in her divsion. Over in the Lightening Kayaks it was Bayley Olds claiming victory for the boys while Janette Colin took home the title for the girls. On the SUP side of the business it was a battle of the Shoemaker brothers with older brother Peter dominating the completion and younger brother Jack with an almost 2 minute margin of victory in a 10 minute race! Peter also took home victory in the sprints. 7

San Diego Canoe Team rebounds f brink of closure


e Kayak from the

by Chris Barlow

On Feb. 2, 2010 the San Diego Canoe Kayak Team (SDCKT) head coach Chris Barlow received a phone call from the city of San Diego. A phone call to say that even though the team had been a model youth program for the city for the past 14 years, the economic climate was such that SDCKT would have to cease operating in its current form.


Ten months later a totally revamped program has emerged, SDCKT is now a separate 501 C3 non-profit corporation with a strong board of directors, an enthusiastic volunteer base and the vision to take SDCKT to new heights. As its own entity SDCKT is enjoying new found freedom to expand and explore the potential of new paddling communities. The necessary paperwork involved in setting up byelaws, employee handbooks, best management practices, payroll, financials, insurance (so much insurance!) … securing a permit for our boathouse and seeking sponsors seemed endless! However, all this organizational work was made worthwhile by a group of smiling kids always anxious to pull out their kayak, canoe, surfski or stand up paddleboard and take to the waters of Mission Bay with the determination to go faster than they had ever gone before. Volunteer coaches joined with paid staff to ensure Coach Chris Zimmer’s workout schedule of mornings and evenings was followed. This hard work paid off at National Team Trials with eight SDCKT members making the USA Junior and U23 USA National Teams. These athletes then


went on to have success at the Lake Placid International Regatta, win medals in Europe at Bochum and again at the Pan American Championships in Mexico City. Coach Barlow was named as the Junior National Team Head Coach for Pan American Championships and an Assistant Coach at the Lake Placid International. The culmination of SDCKT’s rebound success this year however came at the USA Canoe Kayak Sprint National Championships with SDCKT bringing home 67 medals, a third place overall and Bantam National Champions! SDCKT staff and volunteers continued to build on these successes with open houses and recruitment days organized through local schools and the city of San Diego Junior Lifeguard Program. The first ever junior stand up paddleboard racing team was started in September along with a high school program and an U23/collegiate racing team. SDCKT athletes are heavily involved in racing in the Southern California Ocean Winter Race Series of which SDCKT just held its own Tecolote 5000 race on Mission Bay on Dec. 18 with more than 170 participants racing on ICF kayaks, canoes, OC1s, SUP,

paddleboards and dragon boats over a 5,000 meter, 200 meter and 100 meter course. This was SDCKT’s most successful event to date and put everyone in the Christmas Spirit with more than 170 toys handed out to the San Diego Firefighters “Mobile Santa” program which hands out toys to underprivileged kids before the holidays. 2011 looks like it’s also shaping up to be another successful year when SDCKT hosts the USA Canoe Kayak Junior and Senior National Team Trials at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., on April 22- 23. Running alongside the Trials will be the “Silver Blades Regatta” also on the 23rd will give paddlers of all ages and on all sorts of paddle craft the opportunity to join in on the fun by racing on the Olympic Training Center course. As a 1992 Olympic Canoe/Kayak Team member, I began the San Diego Canoe Kayak Team in 1997 when I was working for the San Diego City Lifeguard Department as a junior lifeguard instructor. This summer program attracts more than 1,000 kids every year and teaches lifesaving techniques, surfing, kayaking, sailing, body surfing and overall beach safety. I recognized the enormous

potential of these kids who could all rescue themselves and were already great athletes as a recruitment ground for future USA Canoe/Kayak national yeam members. Notable Olympians and national team athletes who are present or past members of SDCKT include: Carrie Johnson, USA Olympic Team 2004, 2008 and started with SDCKT at 12 years old; Maggie Hogan, USA National Team Member; Morgan Feori, USA National Team Member; Phillipe Bocarra, Six Time Olympian and World Champion; Stein Jorgenson, USA Olympic Team and World Champion 1996, 2000; Laurel Herriman, USA National Team; Ryan Stock, U23 National Team; Jenn Burke, U23 National Team; Nick Hanoian, Junior National Team; Chris Swan 1992 and 1996 Olympian in Rowing who switched to Kayak and is now SDCKT President. Watch as SDCKT continues to grow and flourish as it strives to become the premier paddlesports team in the country. For more information go to www. or check out SDCKT out on Facebook.


The Challenge and Charm of Stage Racing Do I have the speed to get out in front? Will I have the endurance to maintain the pace needed to win? Do I have the strength and cunning to match my competitors in a heated battle for three days in a row? These are a few of the questions competitors ponder during stage racing. Our passion for our sport demands that we answer all these questions. This is why we train, we prepare, and we travel to compete locally, nationally and abroad. All athletes want to know “how fast am I really?” The beauty of paddlesport as a competitive passion is the diversity of dedications and venue styles, while offering the unity of wanting to be on the water and moving fast. We paddle on flat water, open water and rivers all in an effort to master our skills. They complement each other, but each is their own dedication and one must strive to become an expert in them all. There’s canoeing and kayaking. Ultra distance embraces both. Ultra distance assures only the best survivalists endure the element. Spec hull racing is mano’ e mano’, (think NASCAR) it’s not about the boat, it’s about the competitors. How refined is your technique, how fit are you to go fast? Stage racing is relatively new to paddlesport here in North America. There have been stage races in Arkansas and Canada in USCA C1 and C2 hulls for years but there has never been a stage race in the United States for ICF kayak. Stage racing is about all out speed, strength and endurance. 12

Every stroke must be assessed towards moving the boat forward in the most economic fashion possible. Portaging with finesse to gain every little edge needed to take the stage. It’s racing at the highest percentage of your athletic, strategic and mental ability for 3-4 days straight. It’s going out hard, and still pushing to your max when you feel fatigue coming on. There are only a few hours of racing each day and there is money to win and leads to be extended. More importantly, there is the fierce competition to keep you motivated and inspired to give it everything you’ve got.

In Texas, we are famous for our non-stop ultra distance technical venue -- the Texas Water Safari. In this stage race we will embrace the challenge of that difficult course in a technique demanding hull. As we communicate with other paddlers around the nation and the world, we find that question repeats – how fast am I really? To answer it, at least on the dates of July 15-17, 2011 in Texas, we’ve created Viaje del Rio de San Marcos. The first ICF K2/USCA C2 staged race in the United States. Website: July 15-17, 2011 Stage One begins Friday evening with a staggered start, in San Marcos City Park at 4:45 p.m. (USCA C2) or 5 p.m. (ICF K2). This section includes five mandatory portages and it encompasses Rio Vista with three drops in the first mile then

by Erin Magee and John Baltzell

Old Mill, Broken Bone, Cottonseed, and Tiekens rapids over a five-mile span. Stage One is San Marcos City Park to Staples, Texas. At approximately 16.5 miles, the leg can be easily covered in fewer than three hours. Stage Two begins Saturday with the stage leaders starting at 7 a.m. and all other teams departing at 15 second intervals based on their Stage One finish. This section is Staples, Texas, to Luling, Texas. No dams or mandatory portages, no formal rapids, plenty of sweepers and objects to navigate, few straight aways. At approximately 23 miles, this leg can be covered in fewer than four hours. Stage Three, the final stage Sunday, begins with the stage leaders again starting at 7 a.m. with the other teams at 15 second intervals based on their Stage Two finish. The final leg is from Luling, Texas, to Palmetto State Park. Two large dams with mandatory portages are included in this section and two-thirds of the way thru the leg is Son of Ottine Rapid. Depending on the water level, this may also be a portage. This is a section with fewer sweepers, more open water than the previous leg. At approximately 21 miles, this section can easily be covered fewer than four hours. At the conclusion of Stage One, yellow race leader jerseys will be provided to the race leaders; it is important to know who to chase. The overall winner is determined by total elapsed time for each division and stage hot spot awards will be given. To add to the competitive element, there are only two divisions. ICF K2 and USCA C2. There are no mixed, masters, or open divisions. Bring it on and bring on the best partner you can find -- it’s about strategy and athletic prowess!

The challenge of staged racing lies not in the venue or the hull, but in the athlete in conjunction with those things. How long can I go fast? A marathon distance of 30 kilometers is long, but it is not covered slowly. That’s stage racing. There is not enough distance to allow for many if any errors. Is there enough distance to put real time between you and your competition with your technique and fitness? In our particular sport, the race between the national competitive spec canoe design and the international competitive spec kayak hull would allow myth to end and more athletic expansion to begin. Is a kayak really faster than a canoe or is it the other way around? Or, is it more about the athlete and what they have trained to do? The charm of staged racing encompasses the bigger picture. It’s a chance to visit the local area, the opportunity to bring the family where they will have something enjoyable to do, not “bridge sit” watching the competitors fly by. It’s a downtime atmosphere that allows conversation and camaraderie with fellow athletes that you rarely if ever get the opportunity to share ideas and spend time with. For the race administration, it means fewer volunteers, less safety concerns, more community involvement, a high sport awareness factor for sponsorship and future racing endeavors. So you are invited to Texas in July to race in a truly competitive format. Stage, spec hull racing. Not in the heat of the day and not for days on end. Answer the question of how fast you really are. Put an end to the derogatory remarks made by your competition.

13 11

Big water or flat Huki has the canoe for you Try our design tool Create a custom look for your canoe



A letter from USA Canoe/Kayak CEO


Dear Friends, As we look forward to 2011, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on 2010 and acknowledge the terrific efforts of our members, partners, volunteers and staff at USA Canoe/Kayak. I had the great privilege to travel to many corners of the country (and in some cases across oceans) this year to see first-hand the strength, enthusiasm and passion that makes our sport so special. The spirit of the sport and quality of people in our communities is simply amazing and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn what makes paddlesports unique at so many of our destinations. In 2010, our Board of Directors created and launched its Strategic Plan for the organization which sets us on a defined path for success. This plan encompasses five key areas for the sport - Talent Identification, Clubs, Coaching, Events and High Performance. I am excited about leading the effort to bring this plan to life and see USA Canoe/Kayak realize objectives that seemed unattainable not too long ago. I’m proud to share some of our highlights from 2010 as they are terrific points on which to build in the year ahead: The International Canoe Federation awarded two World Championships to USA Canoe/Kayak - the 2013 Freestyle World Championships in western North Carolina and the 2014 Marathon World Championships in Oklahoma City. USA Canoe/Kayak, with the guidance of Pam Boteler, took a leading role in expanding Women’s Canoe on the Sprint and Slalom World Championship program. Canoeing was officially added to the Paralympic Games for 2016. We are thrilled for the new paddling opportunities that will come with Paralympic inclusion and greatly appreciate the tireless work of Deb Page, Jan Whitaker and other volunteers who helped to make this a reality. USA Canoe/Kayak continues to support and embrace the game-changing progress of the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation and the continued development of the Oklahoma River. The brand new $10 million Devon Boathouse and High Performance Center is now open and ready to support our next World and Olympic Medalists.In addition to supporting next-generation canoe/kayak events, the $6 million Chesapeake Finish Line Tower opening in the Spring of 2011 will serve as the iconic symbol of progress for our sport.Oklahoma City University became the first university in the United States to designate Canoe/Kayak as a collegiate varsity sport and support the program with scholarships. USA Canoe/Kayak continued its efforts to widen the base of the Sprint program in 2010 developing new clubs and new club coaches and saw a 25% increase in participation at Sprint National Team Trials, nearly all of whom who were under 19 years-old. Under the supervision of legendary USA Canoe/Kayak Coach, Bill Endicott, USA Canoe/Kayak launched its National Talent Identification program in the Washington, DC area where Sprint and Slalom programs worked together to engage and attract young athletes to the sport. USA Canoe/Kayak athletes visited the podium many times at International competitions in 2010 including the Freestyle World Cup, Slalom Junior Worlds, Slalom World Ranking Series, Sprint Pan Am Championships, Paracanoe at Sprint World Championships, Sprint Masters World Championships and Dragon Boat World Championships. So based on these events in 2010, what does all of this mean to the membership of USA Canoe/Kayak? Our actions show that: 16

We will do the right thing for paddlesports and expand competitive opportunities for more people

We embrace a new vision for our sport that changes the way the our future paddlers will enjoy and succeed in competitive paddlesports

We are committed to supporting competitive paddlesports at the entry-level

We are committed to more trips to the podiums at the World’s most prestigious events

No matter how you choose to pursue competitive paddlesports, our work is designed to support your goals and experiences on and off the water. Unexpected and critical issues, such as the U.S. Olympic Committee’s funding cut to our Sprint National Team, can be viewed as challenges to our mission. But no matter how seemingly insurmountable these types of challenges appear, they inspire us to step up, create solutions and take action that will put our organization on a better track moving forward. As we look forward to 2011, we will create more opportunities for corporate partners and individuals to share in our excitement and momentum at USA Canoe/Kayak and help us sustain competitive paddlesports for the long haul. Please contact me via email here to learn about how you can make a difference and immediately impact our sport. But even as we strengthen our financial position, we won’t lose sight of the fuel that moves USA Canoe/Kayak. It’s what motivates athletes to train on a bitter cold 20 degree day when the ice needs to be broken to reach the middle of the river; It’s what motivates an official to give keep an event moving in the driving rain. Our love for this sport and passion for being on the water is uniquely ours and even at a time when we still have a lot more work to do, we have the foundation we need to keep moving USA Canoe/Kayak in a better direction. So thank you for being a part of USA Canoe/Kayak and on behalf of our Board of Directors, Athletes and Staff, best wishes for a happy and healthy 2011. Sincerely, Joe Jacobi 17

La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge

2 Days & 3 Nights on the BEACH After the Race!

3 person canoes         

Tour Mayan Ruins 18

170 Mile/4 Day Canoe Race in Canoe & Gear Support Crew Lodging Food Belizean RUM Massage on 3 Race Nights Team Shirts Mahogany Commemorative Paddles Custom Hardcover Photo Books

$2,000US per paddler $1,400US non-paddling guest Does not include airfare

Left: Betsy Bellario (kayak) and Brian Wetmore (canoe) put the hammer down at the start of the Des Plaines Marathon. Right: Kayakers head for the Cherry Avenue Bridge in the Chicago River Flatwater Classic.

And Now: The Illinois Triple Crown The three big races in Illinois team up by Gareth Stevens Dressing up for the Mid-American. The Mid-Am welcomes all comers: from elite serious racers and rookie racers to those just out for fun on the river, and everyone in between.

The Des Plaines, the Mid- 1961: The Mid-Am Brings the American, and the Chicago Fox River to the Party 1961 saw the launch of the Mid-AmeriRiver Flatwater Classic become One Grand Series! can Canoe & Kayak Race. The Mid-

Am was the brain child of long-time outdoors writer Bob White. White spent years paddling, exploring, and charting the Fox River. His purpose was to From its small beginnings in 1958 as a “awaken people to the realization of [the friendly competition between 49 scouts river’s] potentialities ... as one of the and their leaders, the Des Plaines River nation’s outstanding recreational areas.” Canoe & Kayak Marathon has become a huge annual event, held in May every That realization is now half a century strong. On June 5, 2011, the Mid-Am year (this year, May 22), and hosting more than 1200 paddlers, making it the celebrates its 50th anniversary. largest single-course canoe & kayak An estimated 40,000 boats have taken race in north America. part in the Mid-Am since its inception. By the time of its 50th year, 2007, par- Whereas the race once started in South ticipants had racked up a combined to- Elgin, it now offers two different tal of more than a million miles along routes – one running from St Charles its 18.5 mile course from Libertyville (10 miles) and one from Batavia (6 miles), both finishing in Aurora – ofto Mt Prospect. The race’s founder, fering exciting opportunities for comRalph Frese, was one of two of the original 49 paddlers who participated petitive racers and first-time paddlers alike. Annually more that 400 boats in the 50th! participate. Each year, when proceeds exceed expenses, the all-volunteer Des Plaines Race host Fox Valley Park District has land along 11 miles of the Fox, and River Assocation makes donations to supports and works with numerous groups (like the Upper Des Plaines local groups to care for, preserve, and River Ecosystem Partnership) whose improve the river. work improves the river for all users.

1958: The Des Plaines – Start of a Million Mile Marathon

Photo credits: top left, © 2008 by Rich Hodgkins; top right, © 2006 by Dave Rigg; bottom © 2008, courtesy Fox Valley Park District.


2000: The Chicago River Flatwater Classic makes its debut Launched by the river conservation group Friends of the Chicago River, the Flatwater Classic had a greater purpose right from its inception: to raise awareness of the river, and for the Friends’ mission. Meshawn Ayala, race director, explains. “[The event] began in 2000 to promote recreational use of and appreciation for the river. Yet it was also a strategic policy initiative. We wanted to create a high visibility event to bring attention to the need to care for and restore the Chicago River, this great community jewel right here in our back yard. We wanted to create an event that would demonstrate that the Chicago River must be clean enough to support its role as a valuable recreational resource – and in the process we wanted to launch a fun, competitive (or non-competitive!), canoe & kayak race for the enjoyment of hundreds of participants every year. “And we have been successful! Our growing presence on the Chicago River has helped convince the Illinois Pollution Control Board that we need new Tandem kayak paddlers Daniel Sikora and Chris Van Meter race past a solo kayaker in the 2008 Des Plaines River Canoe & Kayak Marathon.


water quality standards. In 2011, the Flatwater Classic’s conservation focus is expanding to promote modification or removal of some of the river’s oldest and unnecessary dams to allow fish passage and increase paddler safety.” The Flatwater is another great race that helps the river and its community, too. Participation has grown over its first decade to close to 400 paddlers.

2011. Enter: The Illinois Triple Crown Four Champions, and Four Special Age Awards

The three races have been helping each other out for the best part of a decade with brochure ad swaps, mailing lists, volunteer help, and the like. Discussions for a “Triple Crown” combination actually began at a meeting held early in the decade, hosted by Ralph Frese at his Chicagoland Canoe Base livery. Representatives of the three races made some progress, but floods cancelled both the Des Plaines and the Mid-Am in one year, and bridge construction over the Fox stymied the smooth running of the Mid-Am for another year or two.

With all three races now back in full swing, the plans came back to life – and the concept is a go for 2011! On September 18, 2011, at the awards ceremony for the Chicago River Flatwater Classic, the Series will crown its first champions: the fastest male and female canoers, and the fastest male and female kayakers to race in all three events: four champions. (Of the two races at the Mid-Am, the 10-miler will be the Triple Crown component.) One of the beauties of the Series is that while paddlers must choose their boat type (canoe or kayak), they don’t have to race all three events solo or with the same partner. What counts is their individual cumulative time. The Series will also present four special age awards: for the oldest male paddler and the oldest female paddler to complete all three Triple Crown races – and for the youngest boy and youngest girl to do the same. Every paddler who completes all three races will receive a certificate with their name, times, and partner’s name (if any) printed on the certificate as a record of his or her achievement. Photo credit: © 2008 by Rich Hodgkins.

The Illinois Triple Crown Stage 1

May 22, 2011 The Des Plaines River Canoe & Kayak Marathon

Oak Spring Road, Libertyville to Dam # 2, Mount Prospect, IL

Stage 2

June 5, 2011 The Mid-American Canoe & Kayak Race

Mount Saint Mary Park, St Charles to McCullough Park, Aurora, IL node/104?q=node/554

Stage 3

September 18, 2011 The Chicago River Flatwater Classic

Skokie Lagoons, Skokie to Linne Woods, Morton Grove, IL events/flatwater_classic/

Prizes for:

• fastest female canoer... • fastest male canoer... • fastest female kayaker... • fastest male kayaker...

Special awards for:

• oldest male, female paddler... • youngest male, female paddler...

... to complete all three races. Plus, certificates for all who complete all three Illinois Triple Crown Series races.

Want to know what’s going on here?

g ddlin a P de ldwi endar r o W al The vent C E .com at

e cano p for s u . www top sho dling / / : http one-s er pad h e – th and ot rmation o s race vent inf e

Just click ‘em on the map, then click the big red “Compare Regionals Events” button next — here


effort. Just link your web site’s calendar to the USCA events search page. Gareth Stevens at can send you a logo for the link, if you like, and even Paul Klonowski, Illinois Paddling Council customize the first-seen result. The link Post your event on what is already the on IPC’s site, eg, http://www.illinoispadlargest paddle-sports event calendar in the, goes straight to the country. events for Illinois and neighboring states; The Worldwide Paddling Event Calendar you can broaden your search from there. (wwpec) was launched 18 months ago. Events can be posted at This service provides free promotion for EventsAdd.cfm. You don’t have to create posted paddlesports events of all kinds an account to post items, but creating the – canoe, kayak, SUP, dragon boat, outrig- account (which is easy) will allow you to ger races (you name it), river festivals, manage the post yourself (with updates or paddling clinics, river/lake cleanups, trade site changes, cancellations, etc). USCA shows and so on. More than 700 paddling staff check all items before they appear on events were posted on it last year; 95%+ the calendar (in less than 24 hours); this in the US and Canada, but there were keeps the spammers off the board, so the events posted from all over the world, too! slight delay is a fair trade-off. You can select a number of states or reThe more events that post, the better the gions on a “clickable” map – then comcalendar becomes, and the more that padpare side by side, by date, what’s going dling people can visit it as their first stop on in those regions. Click on any of the for paddle event info. Claiming a date events listed and you get all the details early enough can also steer potentially including a link to your web site! There’s competing events to another date – so also a month-by-month feature. It’s won- even if you don’t have ALL your info yet, derfully flexible. get the bare bones up now, and fill in later. Many thanks to the folks at USCA for With this capability, some organizations creating this feature! Take a good look at might find they don’t need to keep their this; you won’t be disappointed. own calendar, thus saving duplicated


USCA Nationals in Newaygo, MI Set to Raise the Bar by Gareth Stevens

Scene 1: The Bid

no accidental committee! The team has been carefully orchestrated to On a cold, snow-laden day in January, make sure that it contains the right 2010, four guys from Newaygo, MI people: the city representative in Scott present a bid to hold the United States Faulkner, the State representative Canoe Association’s National Canoe in Dave Lorenz, the race expert in & Kayak Championships on the Mus- Martin Ecker, and the host in Powers kegon River from Croton Dam Pond to Outdoors represented by Brett PowNewaygo in Michigan. ers. Not present at the bid is Gabriel The conference room in the Hilton, Slominski of Powers Outdoors, instruOakbrook Terrace, some 20 miles mental in putting this group together. southwest of O’Hare Airport, in IlThe four are up against a team from linois, is packed with USCA delegates Warren, PA which has held successful and members from all over – from Nationals on the Allegheny River in Florida to Washington State. 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009 (causing Newaygo has never held a USCA Jim Decker of the Warren Chamber Nationals – a six day series of events to quip, “It’s an odd year; it must be ranging from sprints to orienteering to time for the USCA.”) Warren knows the (unofficial) biathlon and three days how to mount a Nationals. Its commuof marathon racing. But for five years nity has volunteers well versed in the now, Martin Ecker has run the Power routines, and Warren is fully expecting Paddle, an event which has become a an easy nod through. popular fixture on the Michigan racing Warren is in for a surprise. circuit. Ecker’s race is sponsored by Powers Outdoors, a multi-generational The multi-media presentation of family-owned business that started as Newaygo and the Muskegon River, the a haberdashery in 1941 and morphed facilities and support that Newaygo into a successful outdoor, paddling-fo- promises, the enthusiasm that the four cused business in the 1980s and ’90s. Newaygans convey, blows the delegates away. Newaygo wins the bid. The four guys from Newaygo are 22

Big USCA/Newaygo News Item #1: Prize Money Major prize monies for USCA C1, C2 (3x27) and ICF Kayak. Equal awards, men & women. Payouts as follows: C2 Men Open 1st: $1000; 2nd: $500; 3rd: $250 4th-10th - full race fee refund. C2 Women Open 1st: $1000; 2nd: $500; 3rd: $250 4th-10th - full race fee refund. C2 Mixed Open 1st: $1000; 2nd: $500; 3rd: $250 4th-10th - full race fee refund. C1 Man Open 1st: $500; 2nd: $250; 3rd: $125 4th-10th - full race fee refund. C1 Woman Open 1st: $500; 2nd: $250; 3rd: $125 4th-10th - full race fee refund. ICF K1 Man Open 1st: $500; 2nd: $250; 3rd: $125 4th-10th - full race fee refund. ICF K1 Woman Open 1st: $500; 2nd: $250; 3rd: $125 4th-10th - full race fee refund.

Top photos © 2010 by Gabriel S Slominski ( Photo on right © 2010 by Vadim Lischuk.

Main photo and inset: Lining up for the start of the C2 race, Power Paddle 2010 – on the 2011 USCA Nationals course: a perfect venue for large, exciting starts.

Elite kayakers Austin Schwinn – running – and Matt Streib – taking out – at the Potato Rapids Dam portage, Peshtigo, 2010. Expect to see the best, again, in Newaygo: August 9-14, 2011.


The finish line area of the 2011 USCA Nationals course with camping areas, race headquarters, and finish line.

Power Paddle 2010 – on the 2011 USCA Nationals course: the C1 event, at the base of the Croton Dam portage.

Big USCA/Newaygo News Item #2: Major Sponsorship — Big Benefits Deftly leveraging the opportunity to host USCA’s Nationals, Newaygo has raised in excess of $35,000 in cash and in-kind for ... • Media promotion and coverage to publicize USCA and the event. • Prize money to boost attendance and attract elite athletes. ... and another $30,000+ for infrastructure and other projects that will serve not only this year’s USCA Nationals, but Muskegon River-centered community events of all kinds for years to come, including ... • Permanent signs at all city entrances and street banner cables. • Finish line upgrades at Henning Park, including PA systems for finish line announcements. • A city-wide wi-fi project (sparked by USCA’s request for race area wi-fi as in Peshtigo, WI in 2010). • Boat launch upgrades. • “Riverstock” – the launch of an annual music and food festival, to occur every year on the second weekend in August. • Two afternoons/evenings with live music & beer tent. • Combination of “green” themes & river stewardship, and reflections of Woodstock. In its 43 year history, the United States Canoe Association has, since its inaugural race on July 6, 1968 on the South Fork, Cumberland River in Oneida, TN, had bigger and smaller National Championships. In the last decade, the biggest Nationals was in New Hampshire.


Top photo © 2010 by Google, Inc; lower photo © 2010 by Gabriel S Slominski (

Big USCA/Newaygo News Item #3: Kids – All Week, $5

Anna Tompkins, kayak, and Jackie Stone, canoe, in Junior sprints, Peshtigo, 2010.

Flat Race Fee for Youth $5, Total. Youth get to race all week long for a flat $5 total race fee: Adult/Youth Sprints, Orienteering, the “fun, unofficial” Biathlon Championship, Youth Sprints (up to 5 races), plus three Marathon days – all for $5. Awesome!

Dallas Johnson, in Bantam canoe sprints, Peshtigo, 2010.

Nick McGrory & Isaak Ridge, followed by Alex Iacampo (hidden) & Nathan White, C2 Junior sprints, Peshtigo, 2010. Photos copyright © 2010 by Robert Brumm (Shoot-To-Thrill Photography) –

The Hanover Nationals were memorable for, among other things, a great PA system and Peter Heed’s full tilt, breathless race commentating, bringing a level of excitement to the spectators, not all of whom could see clearly what was happening on the river. They were also memorable for the more than 500 paddlers who participated.

June 12-13, 2010: the 6th Power Paddle, where Martin Ecker is getting a record turnout: more than a hundred paddlers have turned up. True to Michigan tradition, and arguably a puzzle piece in the picture of Michigan’s vibrant paddling scene, there is prize money. $3500 of it.

Big USCA/Newaygo News Item #4: Free Spaghetti! Free Friday Night Spaghetti Dinner. USCA’s traditional Friday night spaghetti dinner – compliments of Coles Quality Foods, well-known national producer of garlic bread. (Coles will also provide the Racer Packets).

Now, Team Newaygo had given Team Newaygo has set out to bury that no hint of prize money ... a conrecord. troversial subject in some of the traditional die-hard amateur quarters Scene 2: Update of the USCA ... but it had not escaped notice that the biggest Nationals of the Fast forward a year, to a cold, snowdecade, in Hanover, NH, had featured laden day in January, 2011. Scott Faulkner gets ready to present a prog- prize money – not the only factor that ress report to the USCA’s Annual Meet- contributed to its success, but undoubting in a jammed conference room at the edly a factor. Airport Holiday Inn, in Charlotte, NC. But wait, let’s first back up a little, to

In Hanover, in 2002, prize money was 5-deep in C1 Man Open, 5-deep in C1

Man Master, 5-deep in C1 Man Senior, 3-deep in C1 Woman Open, and 2-deep in C1 Woman Master. No C2 or K. A total of 162 C1s lined up for the starts! Hmm. Fast forward again to North Carolina, specifically after lunch on Saturday, January 15, 2011, to Scott Faulkner, now ready with his Powerpoint presentation. 25

In a tight finish, Calvin Hassel (46) edges out Serge Corbin (53) in a spectator-thrilling culmination to the 2010 USCA C1 Man National Championship in Peshtigo, WI. Andy Triebold (34) – off camera – came third. The level of competition high, and intense.

Big USCA/Newaygo News Item #5: Greater Depth of Canoe Competition for True National Championships Open Class National Championships for C2 Men, C2 Women, C2 Mixed, C1 Man, C1 Woman In a pivotal decision at its Annual Meeting in Charlotte, NC, January 14, 2011 and reversing a trend to an ever greater number of smaller and smaller classes, with “National Champions by the score” – USCA has restored prestige to the concept of a “USCA National Champion” for canoe classes. Starting with the Newaygo Nationals, there will only be one National Champion paddler/ team for USCA C1 and C2 (3x27) racing specs, for each gender class and the mixed C2 class. All ages will start together (unless sheer numbers require heats). Recognition will be given to “age group” champions according to actual age – another break from past practice where paddlers could choose to “race down” an age group, if they wished. Plans are being drawn up for a similar step forward for the kayak classes. 26

And the kayaker is Sonja Gilman (50), winning the K1 Unlimited Woman Open Championship.

It is masterful!

Women’s Interests Committee and Screen by screen, Faulkner reels off one of her missions has been to promote equal prizes for women. She milestone after milestone, accominterrupts the speaker, walks over to plishment after accomplishment, him, gives him a big hug, and says a in the preparation for USCA’s 2011 Nationals. Technology resources are heartfelt “Thank you!” in place – new race infrastructure is I wish I’d had my camera. ready – safety team & emergency Look to all the sidebars that punctuplanning, � check – $19,350 raised ate this article for more details of the for city event hosting infrastrucbig news items for the 2011 USCA ture, $9,500 for race launch site National Championships (and we upgrades – $5000 grants from each may soon, I hear, be calling this of ChoiceOne Bank and Spectrum year’s event the ChoiceOne Bank Health to subsidize lowered fees Spectrum Health USCA National for youth and provide other great Canoe & Kayak Championships). benefits – $44,850 raised from other businesses – the spaghetti dinner Scene 3: Newaygo sponsored by Coles – a $15,000 Fast forward now to August 2011. donation for media coverage – the Been to the USCA Nationals before? new “Riverstock” festival – the If so, you know the events to expect. promise of lowered race fees based The 2011 registration form will be on additional funding success. The posted by mid March. You can get an list goes on. idea of what is on offer now by lookAnd then there’s the announcement ing at last year’s form at http://tiny. of prize monies for USCA C1, C2 cc/vl54i and noting these differences: 3x27, and K1-ICF classes! And that (a) The USCA C1 and C2 (3x27) the prizes will be equal for women classes have been reorganized: see and men. the sidebar to the left. At this point, I witness something I have never seen at a USCA Annual Meeting. The President, Janet Perry, has for nearly a decade chaired the

(b) SUP Unlimited Sprints and SUP Stock Marathon (each with divisions for men and women) will Photo © 2010 by Gareth Stevens

Big USCA/Newaygo News Item #6: Great race courses!

Superlative race courses - and the opportunity to check them out at the “Pre-Nationals” – the 7th Annual Power Paddle on June 18-19 hosted by Powers Outdoors ... Sprints take place on Croton Dam Pond. Electric power has been installed for the boat dock/shelter (timing location). Picnic tables & other seating will be set up and food vendors will be there all week including breakfast time on the three marathon days. A regular shuttle service to/from Croton will be on hand, and possibly a shuttle service to/from Newaygo (10-15 mins west). Marathons start on Croton Dam Pond, with a 4-mile tour of the islands before racers return to the dam to portage to the Muskegon River, then paddle 1213 miles through a scenic mix of residential and state land, along high sand banks and wooded forest to the Newaygo finish line. The all-downstream course has current (typically 3 mph) and clean, clear water, mostly flat but with some Class 1 riffle, and a mix of deep (3-4 feet) and shallow stretches: a great river reading challenge! Satellite maps © 2010 by Google, Inc

Big USCA/Newaygo News Item #7: Yet more events! Above: the marathon race course from Croton Dam Pond to Newaygo. Below: Croton Dam Pond, site of the sprint events and of the marathon starts.

Amateur and non-sanctioned paddling events throughout the week! A GREAT CHANCE for area residents, spectators, and visiting non-Nationalsracers to get kids and family involved during the Newaygo Nationals! Costume Paddle! Relay Race! “DamDown” Race! SUP Race! and more...

USCA Nationals 2010 Above: C2 Mixed: Marc Gillespie & Holly Reynolds; Left: Connie Cannon (C1), and Sonja Gilman (K1); Right: a K2 Mixed team racing in the K2 Men class: Ellen Roy & Marsh Jones.

each be official Trial Events – mean- race course, with many C1, C2, K1, ing that if there are seven or more K2 and SUP classes. participants, they become a National The USCA also hosts the USACK Championship the following year. Marathon Nationals, featuring ICF Never been to the USCA Nationals? (Olympic-style) kayaks. USACK is the Here’s an overview: National Olympic Committee for paddling in the United States. Tuesday: • Adult & Adult/Youth Sprints (500m) (C1, C2, and K events, many age group divisions) • National ParaCanoe Sprint Championships for Paddlers with Physical Disabilities (500m) – ParaKayak and ParaVa’a (outrigger) – solo events Wednesday:

And as more race and registration details, lodging, and other important information becomes available, it will be posted on the following sites: Worldwide Paddling Event Calendar

bership organization promoting a five star program of Cruising, Conservation, Camping, Camaraderie and Competition for canoers and kayakers. USCA publishes a quarterly publication, Canoe News and presents two annual national championship events: USCA National Canoe & Kayak Championships, a multi-day event in early August, and a smaller event, the Aluminum Nationals at a variable date. With more than 900 members, USCA promotes paddling as a healthy lifetime sport, and has been a leader in marathon paddlesports since 1968.

• Canoe & Kayak Orienteering (3 hrs) For more information on USCA, its events or membership please visit the • Run Paddle Biathlon Championships web site at (3k run, 3k paddle, 100 meter portage) The USCA Nationals in Newaygo, MI Thursday: • Youth Sprints (250m and 500m) (C1, is set to be a great event. I recommend it highly. Come for the fun and the C2 & K1, many youth age divisions) competition. Bring the family. Friday through Sunday: • Three marathon days, 16-17 mile 28

USCA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) mem-

Committee chairs may be contacted for additional specific information in their field of activity. For contact details, see Appointments_W64.cfm.

Top and left photos © 2010 by Robert Brumm (Shoot-To-Thrill Photography) – Photo on right © 2010 by David & Linda Williams (WillArts) –

Visit or


USCA National Canoe & Kayak Championships

Muskegon River • Newaygo, MI Tuesday, August 9 to Sunday, August 14 Six great days of adult and youth sprints, biathlon, and orienteering, and featuring three days of marathon canoe & kayak racing with the best in the nation

Travel Grants for Paddlers with Physical Disabilities USCA adds to the travel grants program it already has for members to attend ICF World Marathon Championships by Gareth Stevens

USCA’s Annual Meeting in Charlotte, NC in January yielded some exciting news and good decisions. Not least was the yes vote for a new travel grant program for USCA paddlers with physical disabilities. Such paddlers can apply for support to be awarded in the form of need-based travel grants.

Total yearly grant allotment from the USCA will not exceed three thousand dollars ($3000), but program specific donations will be welcomed and will augment this fund. The total yearly disbursement to any individual USCA member selected as a member of USA Canoe/Kayak’s ParaCanoe team will not exceed one thousand dollars ($1000); total yearly disbursement to any individual participating in USCA National Championships will not exceed $200. Grant amounts, based on demonstrated need, will be determined by the USCA

ParaCanoe Paddler Grants Committee. Rules and application forms can be found at The proposal was initiated by USCA’s then-president, Janet Perry, developed by Janet Whitaker, chair of the USCA’s Adaptive Paddling Committee, and presented at USCA’s Annual Meeting by Priscilla Reinertsen. The rules and application forms for travel scholarships for paddlers selected for the US Team at the Junior and Senior levels for ICF World Marathon Championships can be found at:

Left: Kevin Carr of “Creating Ability” working with paddler Jake Hipps of Buffalo, NY in preparation for the Parakayak class in USCA’s inaugural National Sprint Championships for Paddlers with Physical Disabilities, August 10, 2010 at the Peshtigo, WI USCA Nationals.

Photo above, © 2010 by Gareth Stevens Main photo, © 2010 by Robert Brumm (Shoot-To-Thrill Photography) –

g n i c u d o r t In



The Zazzzu K2 is based on the award-winning features of the KayakPro Nemo (voted kayak of the year by Outside magazine) — but in a double kayak. It is a fast ocean and flat water racing K2 — stable and able to contend with all conditions. Its pronounced buoyant bow allows “with ease surfing” without fear of burying. Zazzzu out-performs any other all–condition K2s in both flat water and on the ocean, its stability allowing it to be paddled by all. It comes complete with hatches, decklines, Smart-Track peddle rudder system and features paddle cut-aways for a tight catch. It will accommodate paddlers from 90 - 220 lbs. Length: 21’3” Width: 22”

also KayakPro’s two newest ergometers

Outrigger Canoe Ergometer Dragon Boat Ergometer 31

Hui Ho’ola, an outrigger racing team will paddle 340 non-stop miles in fewer than 60 hours to raise awareness and funds for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Join the fight against breast cancer by making a tax-deductible donation in support of Hui Ho’ola



Join us in Oklahoma City for the 2011 OKC RIVERSPORT Indoor Kayak Challenge presented in conjunction with USA Canoe/Kayak. • Men’s and women’s junior and open 200m and 500m racing • Saturday, February 12 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City • Registration is $25; medals to be awarded • Held in conjunction with the Bart and Nadia Comaneci Health & Wellness Festival and the RIVERSPORT RUNDERGROUND 5k fun run through OKC’s downtown Underground Coaches are invited to stay through Sunday for the USA Canoe/Kayak Coaching Conference to be held on February 13 in the OKC National High Performance Center, in the new $10 million Devon Boathouse on the Oklahoma River downtown. • 8am to 3pm • Lunch Provided • $35 Registration



To learn more or to register, visit oklahomariverevents,org/kayak-indoor-challenge or contact OKC National High Performance Center head coach Shaun Caven, (405) 552-4040.


The Science of Paddling: when is a hull truly smooth? By Shawn Burke

" I watched a C-2 paddler with some curiosity as I tried to wipe the sleep from my eyes on Memorial Day 2009 at Lakefront Park. He was alternately spraying a clear liquid on the bottom of his pro boat, and then madly buffing it. I thought he might be practicing some new way of warming up before the annual General Clinton 70-miler. I learned instead that the he hoped to make his boat faster by coating it with this “liquid speed.” " I asked about all of the scratches on the hull, and if perhaps they might slow him down a bit. He admitted that there wasn’t much he could do about that on race morning. But he fervently believed that the magic goo he was applying to the bottom of the hull would more than compensate for the scratches. " Back in the day I spent a couple of years in graduate school doing research at a water tunnel –#like a wind tunnel, but filled

look at what happens as water flows over our canoes and kayaks. " Consider the flow of water along a hull as depicted in Figure 1. In this figure the boat is moving from left-to-right in quiet water. We’ll assume that the boat is up to speed and traveling at a steady rate. We’ll also adopt a paddler’s frame of reference, where we think of the water as flowing past the hull, rather than the hull past the water. The physics are easier to understand that way. " As water approaches the hull in the water molecules are free to move anywhere they want. When they first encounter the boat, something interesting happens: the water molecules that contact the hull actually stick. No kidding! Right at the hull surface, the water molecules and the hull move together. Since we’ve adopted a boat-centric frame of reference, this means the water right at the hull’s surface has zero velocity with respect to

Fig. 1: Water flow benea th a hull

with water rather than air – exploring novel techniques for drag reduction on seagoing vessels. And I know that in certain cases liquid polymers (and even air bubbles) can reduce hull drag – more on that later. But these exotic techniques don’t work in the way that C-2 paddler hoped his hull polish would work. Period. In light of some basic physics – in this case, hydrodynamics, which is the study of fluid flow – the more pertinent question was how much of a penalty he and his partner were going to pay for all of those scratches in their hull. " The biggest misconception people have about waxes, polishes, and other sources of “liquid speed” is that they somehow allow their hulls to slip through the water faster. Or that by some magic water won’t “stick” to the hulls as easily if they are so treated. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are other possible benefits from polishes, and we’ll address those later. But in terms of making a boat more “slippery” in the water, well, not so much. In order to understand why, let’s


the hull. This is called the no slip condition. The no slip condition holds whether the hull is made of Kevlar, carbon fiber, wood, aluminum, plastic, or anything else for that matter. And it is true whether the hull has been coated with “liquid speed,” a UV protectant, carnauba wax, or slime from your last paddling session. In all of these cases, the relative speed between the hull, and the water in contact with the hull, is zero. Period. " Now we know that water flows past the hull as we paddle. So what happens to the water that isn’t in contact with the hull, but is instead “close” to it? This is where the concept of a boundary layer comes into play. And this is where all of the friction drag comes from that is constantly trying to slow you down. " The no slip condition requires the water’s relative speed at the hull to be zero. The so-called “free stream” speed of water far away from the hull must equal your hull speed.

This article © 2010 by Shawn Burke is one of a series by Shawn, editor of NECKRA’s The Competitive Paddler. It is reproduced here by permission and may not be further reproduced in part or in whole without the express permission of the copyright holder.



Consequently, there is a variation or “gradient” in the water’s relative velocity as we move away from the hull’s surface until the water’s velocity equals the hull speed. The region where this gradient exists is called a “boundary layer.” Boundary layer shapes are illustrated in Figure 2 for so-called “laminar” and “turbulent” cases. The dotted line denotes the thickness of the boundary layer. The boundary layer grows thicker as you go from the front of the hull to the back. And as suggested by the varying shapes or “profiles” of the boundary layers in the figure, the character of the boundary layer changes as well.

Fig. 2: Boundary layers

" A laminar boundary layer develops near the front of the boat. The water impinging on the hull travels uniformly in this case. That is, if you injected a colored dye in the water there you’d see that the dye moves along the hull in nice, parallel lines, hence the term “laminar” (like “laminations”). The laminar boundary layer depicted in Figure 2 has a fairly gradual gradient in the water’s speed as you move away from the hull. The “sharpness” of this gradient is indicative of the frictional forces on the hull. The more gradual gradient in the laminar case reflects lower shear stress on the hull, which means lower frictional drag. In fact, if the flow over the entire hull was laminar, the frictional drag would be greatly reduced, and you’d go a bit faster. " Laminar boundary layers are sensitive beasts. Think of a laminar boundary layer as being a little “channel” of water next to the hull. Inside this channel there is not only smoothlyflowing water, but also tiny pressure waves that aren’t all that different from sound waves. These pressure waves – called “Tolmein-Schlicting,” or “TS” waves – travel inside this laminar boundary layer “channel” in the direction of flow, e.g. from the front of the hull towards the back, like sound down a tube. TS waves are caused by small disturbances in the upstream flow, like those found when paddling in swirly or turbulent rivers, or when following another boat. " The TS waves differ from ordinary sound waves in one very important respect: they grow in amplitude as they travel. After


they travel a certain distance, they will have grown in amplitude enough that they start to disrupt the laminar boundary layer’s order. The nice parallel streamlines of the laminar flow start to wiggle and distort under the influence of these growing pressure waves, and become disorganized. At this point the boundary layer is starting to transition from laminar to turbulent, hence the “transition region” shown in Figure 1. " The location on the hull at which transition occurs is determined by the speed of the hull, and the viscosity of water. If we represent the hull speed as U, and the (kinematic)

viscosity of water as !, then the distance L from the front stem of the hull at which the flow becomes turbulent is approximated by the following equation:

The expression on the left hand side of this equation is called the Reynolds number, and is often written as “Re.” When the Reynolds number equals approximately 1,000,000 the flow over the hull becomes turbulent. For a C-1 racing at 6.3 mph (2.8 m/s) in 68F (20C) water, transition occurs a mere 14 inches (35.4 cm) from the front of the boat. The transition region will be even shorter. Since a USCA C-1 Cruiser is typically 18’6” long, we see that the flow over the vast majority of the hull is turbulent. And if the upstream disturbances in the flow of water are large, perhaps due to whitewater eddies or the wake of a boat you are drafting, then transition will occur even closer to the front stem of the boat. " Once the flow is turbulent, there are no longer any nice, orderly streamlines inside the boundary layer. Instead, the flow there becomes chaotic, and highly three-dimensional. This is illustrated by the flow visualization in Figure 3. In this view we’re looking at a portion of the bottom of the hull from below, with water is flowing from right to left. A dye has been injected into the water upstream. Notice how the streamlines changes


from nice, parallel lines to a highly chaotic structure as the water flows over the hull. You can also see oscillations in the streamlines in the transition region just upstream of the large turbulent “burst”. The flow continues its chaotic nature downstream of this area as the boundary layer becomes fully turbulent. The velocity gradient inside the now turbulent boundary layer becomes sharper than in the laminar case, as depicted in Figure 2. This reflects the fact that the frictional forces due to shear stresses on the hull’s surface are greater than for laminar flow. The boundary layer itself becomes thicker, as you are putting more of your precious paddling energy into generating turbulence. Bummer! " While there are ways to extend the region over which the flow over a hull is laminar, they tend to involve fairly impractical measures like generating out-of-phase sound waves ahead of the hull (as demonstrated by my grad school office mate Chuck Gedney in his Ph.D. thesis), or selectively heating the hull surface (as demonstrated by Dan Nosenchuck in his Ph.D. thesis at Cal Tech), to interfere with the TS waves’ growth. Even then, transition is delayed by around ~50%, under ideal laboratory conditions. When it comes to turbulence and friction drag, you can’t win, you can’t break even, and you can’t get out of the game. " Now the no-slip condition, boundary layer transition, and turbulence are going to be there whether you coat your hull in magic goo or not. But are there any things you can you do to

and the weight of the boat and paddlers. So realizing a 1% decrease in viscous drag by polishing a hull will result in a comparable decrease in total drag. " But how rough is rough? If a hull is “smooth enough,” will it slip through as if it were perfectly smooth? And, is there a rule of thumb regarding roughness for those of us who really obsess about our hulls? Well of course! " Even though the flow over 95% of our hulls is turbulent, there is an exceedingly thin layer of the flow immediately adjacent to the hull’s surface that it laminar, no matter what. This “laminar sublayer” is far thinner than the boundary layer in which it resides. The laminar sublayer exists because there is a difference between molecular diffusion and the propagation of vorticity, the latter of which describes turbulence in the outer boundary layer – in other words, serious techno babble. The importance of the sublayer to our discussion is that it is the key to understanding how surface roughness impacts drag on our hulls. " Like the laminar portion of the boundary layer itself, the laminar sublayer is easily disturbed. Hull roughness can destabilize the sublayer, leading to increased turbulence through a process called “bursting” where microscopic geysers of water launch away from the hull into the main boundary layer, further energizing the turbulence there and increasing drag. But suffice it to say that as long as the height of any surface roughness is small relative to the thickness of the laminar sublayer, then the

Fig. 3: Plan view of a boundary layer becoming turbulent:! flow is right to left

make your boat go faster? Aside from buying a faster hull shape – and more training – the first thing to consider is the condition of your hull. Many of us who paddle on shallow rivers have had one or more close encounters with logs and rocks. The resulting scratches are a concern. But should they be? Are some scratches worse than others. " It is well known that most minor imperfections in a hull’s smoothness will slightly increase viscous drag, on the order of a couple percent. At the other extreme, a group of students at the University of Michigan took an aluminum canoe, bludgeoned it with sledgehammers all along its length, and measured the resulting increase in drag force in a towing tank. The amply distorted hull exhibited about a 6% increase in total drag; so how bad can your hull be? And keep in mind the fact that viscous drag is only one component of the total drag force exerted on a hull as you paddle it, as shown in Figure 4. At racing speeds viscous drag will be overshadowed by form drag and wave drag effects, which are properties of the hull’s shape


hull will behave as if it is smooth; the sublayer will continue to be stable and laminar. "

The laminar sublayer thickness "1 is approximated by

where Rex is the Reynolds number cited above, and the length scale is now the distance x from the bow. Figure 5 is a plot of the sublayer thickness along the hull for an 18.5-foot racing canoe running at 6.3 mph (2.8m/s) in 68F (20C) fresh water. Note that the sublayer thickness is inversely proportional to a power of hull speed V, which means the sublayer is thinner the faster you go. A thinner sublayer exacts a more demanding limit on hull smoothness, e.g. the faster you go, the smoother your hull needs to be.


Fig. 4: Drag forces vs. speed

" Fortunately for us paddlers, we don’t move all that fast; at least compared to, say, a car or a jet. As you’ll note from the plot, the sublayer thickness for our racing canoe at 6.3 mph varies from about 5 thousandths of an inch near the bow to around 8 thousandths of an inch near the stern. So to ensure that your hull is “hydrodynamically smooth,” make sure it is no rougher than about 1 to 1.6 thousandths of an inch average roughness height, or about one fifth of the sublayer thickness. In more familiar terns, 1.4 thousandths of an inch is about the average grain size of 320 grit sandpaper. If your hull is as smooth as that, as far as the water is concerned it is perfectly smooth. Roughness greater than that will introduce more turbulence into the boundary layer, and a (very small) increase in overall drag. " So where should you focus your energy and resources to reduce friction drag, if anywhere? Certainly a scratched and

Fig. 5: Sublayer thickness vs. distance along the hull


rough hull will foul more easily, and deep scratches should be repaired if for nothing else than to prevent moisture penetration into the underlying fibers of a Kevlar or carbon lay-up. Those are reasons enough to keep a hull in good repair. And if you really want to do some polishing, and the polish fills or grinds down in any superficial scratches, then there will be a tiny decrease in frictional drag. This will be most important in the leading couple of feet of the hull, since small surface imperfections there can help destabilize a laminar boundary layer and lead to an even earlier transition to turbulence. So by all means polish the bow and the front meter or so of the hull, and keep the rest smoother than around 0.002”. But as to employing “liquid speed,” the chief benefactor there may lie between your ears. If you feel that it makes you paddle faster, you probably will.

Addendum –!Novel Drag Reduction Techniques In the 1980s there were several studies that characterized exotic approaches to turbulent drag reduction, such as compliant skins, injecting long-chain polymers or air bubbles into the flow, and “scoring” surfaces along the direction of flow. In summary: • The jury is still out on whether compliant hull surfaces reduce drag. But it was an interesting technology to explore, and funded two years of graduate school for me. • Injecting a cloud of tiny air bubbles into a boundary layer can have a huge effect in decreasing drag. In essence, you are encasing the hull in a thin envelope of air, so now you mostly have to counteract the drag force arising from moving the hull through air, rather than through water – much less friction. Rumor has it that this technology has been incorporated into highspeed torpedoes. Incorporating an air injection system into racing hulls would entail a lot of equipment, weight, and space, so it’s not very practical for our needs. The displacement penalty from the added weight would more than offset any reduction in friction drag, as noted in The Science of Paddling, Part 1. • Injecting long-chain polymers into a turbulent boundary layer can measurably reduce drag. It apparently works by dampening the growth of ! turbulence in the cross-stream direction. And by

“long-chain polymers,” think of something like cooking oil. In order for this to work you have to controllably inject thin streams of it into the boundary layer the entire time you are under way. I doubt I’ll be seeing pit stops at the General Clinton with crews resupplying water, food, and canola oil. 3M used to sell a type of polymer sheeting that had parallel, triangular grooves. The grooves were 6 thousandths of an inch tall, spaced 6 thousandths of an inch apart. The sheeting was adhered to a hull with the grooves aligned in the direction of flow. Under certain conditions, surfaces with this “ribbed” covering experienced a drop in viscous drag ranging from 2 to 8 percent. This material was tested on rowing shells. Unfortunately, while there seemed to be some initial effect in reducing drag, the next day the effect disappeared. This may likely be attributable to surface fouling between uses. Remember, a 6 thousandth of an inch feature is quite small, easily damaged, and easily filled with river slime. I have heard of more lasting results from the ‘80s applying the 3M sheeting to sprint kayaks, but have yet to find any published article or quantitative test data so support what I’ve heard. If you have any, let me know!

Copyright © 2010, Shawn Burke

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